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December 31, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Seth Smith talks about joining the Mariners

Of all the things that happened in Seth Smith’s life over the last 48 hours, being traded to the Mariners might have been the easiest thing for him to predict.

Because sitting at his home in Madison, Mississippi on Wednesday afternoon, and watching his alma mater Ole Miss – a team he once played quarterback for – get demolished by Texas Christian, 42-3, in the Peach Bowl was not at all expected.

“That was awful,” he said with a long pause. Then with a chuckle, he added: “Next question.”

The next questions were about joining the Mariners – a much better subject to discuss. On Tuesday, Seattle completed a trade with the Padres, acquiring Smith, a veteran outfielder, in exchange for hard-throwing reliever Brandon Maurer.

Smith had an idea the trade was coming. The rumors were out there.

“I probably hear the same or less than you guys when it’s all happening,” he said. “I pay a little bit of attention to the trade rumors that were out there, and obviously I pay attention to what the Padres were doing. A lot of times, you can put two and two together. You never know what’s going to happen, but you can give yourself a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen.”

It wasn’t so much as two plus two. It was Matt Kemp plus Wil Myers plus Justin Upton to a roster that already had five outfielders, and, well, that addition meant subtraction.

“I’ve learned over time to control what I can control,” he said. “And anything I can’t control I do my best not to worry about. It was the same with this deal. I just tried to enjoy the offseason, get my work in and not worry about it.”

Smith wasn’t disappointed to be traded to the Mariners. He saw Seattle in a handful of interleague games last season. But when he was with the A’s the seasons before, he saw the framework of the team being built.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “Obviously watching them last year, making it right to the end and fighting for a playoff spot was fun to watch. I got to see them first hand in 2012 and 2013 and they were always a club that’s been right there. We didn’t like playing them when I was in Oakland. They gave us problems, especially when you have a pitching staff like that.”

He has no expectations about his role with the Mariners. He knows that he likely fills in as a platoon player with Justin Ruggiano in right field – similar to his role in San Diego. But every player covets the chance to play every day. He isn’t going to over think the situation.

“If they ask me to be a guy that doesn’t play every day but play a lot, I would do that,” he said. “It’s up to them and what they want to do with me. But I’m going to embrace whatever role they have for me.”

If his role is to only hit right-handed pitchers in a platoon, it’s something he’s done well in the past.

Last season he had 521 plate appearances for the Padres. Of that total, 455 of them came against right-handers. He hit racked up a solid slash line of .270/.359/.455 with 27 doubles, five triples, 12 homers and 40 RBI. For his career, he has a .277/.358/.481 line against right-handers.

After two relatively mediocre years with the A’s, something clicked for Smith last season. With some help from hitting coaches Phil Plantier and Alonzo Powell – both former Mariners’ hitting instructors – Smith found some of the consistency he was craving.

“We talked about some things and some adjustments – that I didn’t’ have to make but I wanted to make because they were going to help me take that next step forward,” he said. “I bought in and I listened to them. We went in that direction and it really paid off.”

Smith had his best season since 2011 when he posted an .830 OPS with the Rockies.

“It wasn’t something where I came out and hit 30 home runs or some thing crazy,” he said. “But I felt like I made some physical adjustments that allowed me to be a little more consistent and allowed me to get my best swings more often.”

Smith hopes to have his best swings this season in a Mariners’ uniform. And it doesn’t matter if they come in Safeco Field or elsewhere. He isn’t concerned about Safeco’s reputation as being hard on hitters. He’s coming from ultra-spacious Petco Park, a place just as bad, if not worse than Safeco.

“You can embrace it and kind of go after it or let it beat you before you even step in the box,” he said. “I’ve always taken the approach that I’m just going to up there and hit the ball hard on a line somewhere and see what happens. Ultimately, that’s all you can do – give yourself a chance and put a good at-bat together. It is what you make of it. If you go in there and worry about the field, you are going to have a tough time playing and having success.”

 

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